London: With a pricing war underway since rates for private maritime security companies (PMSCs) have hit rock bottom many firms are cutting corners in a dangerous way, warns the co-founder of an independent security brokerage in today’s Maritime CEO.
Emma Mitchell set up ASKET in the UK nearly two years ago as a free service that assists shipping clients by significantly reducing the time and costs involved in auditing, vetting and procuring security services.
Mitchell reports that market pricing for security services is at an all time low. Long gone are the Somalia days of fear, misunderstanding, ‘cowboys’ and extortionate rates. Now, Mitchell warns the cutthroat nature of the PMSC business means the industry may only just be paying enough to ensure it is compliant and credible.
“Some security companies are employing sub-standard contractors or illegally sharing weapons to allow them to maintain margin,” Mitchell reports, noting how her company has rejected three security companies via its vetting process, despite their attainment of ISO28007.
The price war has seen some notable names drop out of the PMSC race, which worries Mitchell as the amount of genuine quality PMSCs dwindles. “With the recent exit from the market of big players, there will soon become a drain on quality service capacity,” she warns.
Mitchell also lashes out at PMSCs and authorities alike for failing to share enough information about the piracy threat, something that can lead to dangerous assumptions and miscalculations by shipowners.
“There is still a lot of misinformation and lack of information sharing as providers vie for space, information is seen as a resource and not enough is shared, also many of the leading intelligence providers are too afraid of getting it wrong and so only give open source information with no real analysis that can be used by a shipping industry trying to make business decisions and mitigate risk,” she says.
ASKET is growing fast, its free maritime security app has been a big hit with more than 60 pages of information including bridge cards, emergency check lists, emergency contacts and recognition guides for those onboard or ashore. Likewise its free weekly update is growing in readership, with now more than 1,000 subscribers.